Family and friends of former state House Majority Leader David B. Pudlin are remembering him as a tireless advocate of the state’s working men and women.
Pudlin, who served the 24th House District in New Britain from 1988 to 2004, died on Friday after a fall at home. He was 68 years old.
His son, Sam, said Pudlin was most proud of shepherding the passage of a 66% increase in the state’s minimum wage while he was House Majority Leader.
“He would not have wanted to be summarized by any other metric …,” Sam Pudlin wrote in a Facebook post.
Pudlin was born in New Britain where he was a leader of the city’s Labor-Democratic Party coalition over the last 30 years, and he was an organizer for District 1199, the New England Health Care Employees Union.
For Pudlin, “politics was a labor of love and kind of a family business. His parents, Attorney Alvin Pudlin and Rose Pudlin, were progressive Democratic leaders in the city in the 1960s. To his many friends, David was shrewd, fun-loving, generous and principled. He was proud to represent and be a citizen of New Britain,” according to the statement released by the New Britain Democratic Party.
Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, current deputy speaker pro tem of the House, was first elected with Pudlin and served as Pudlin’s deputy.
“He taught me much about coalition building, and humor as a way to make a day brighter,” Godfrey said in a Facebook post.
Pudlin was a dedicated progressive leader in the chamber, always with an eye to improving life for the working poor. That said, he forged coalitions and focused on the long game, agreeing to disagree on policy without being disagreeable to those with opposing viewpoints.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal worked with Pudlin in the legislature and “counted him as a friend.”
In a written statement, Blumenthal said, “David was a fierce, relentless advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable — a champion of working men and women. He deeply cared about human values like health care and education opportunity, and fought for them in and out of public office.”
Gov. Ned Lamont described Pudlin as a “committed voice for justice, dignity, and equality.”
Pudlin “was an extraordinary person who deeply cared for the people of his hometown of New Britain, as well as a devoted advocate on behalf of all Connecticut working men, women and their families,” Lamont said in a statement issued from his office.
As deeply as Pudlin loved politics and policy for the ability to improve lives, he harbored an appreciation of food that he shared freely with his friends. He was known to call in the predawn hours with tidbits about hotdogs, restaurants or recipes. Pudlin also was an ardent student of history, and a stickler for maintaining traditions.
After his retirement from the legislature, Pudlin continued to mentor candidates and work for progressive causes.
He is survived by his wife, Elisabeth Nicholas, sons Sam and Jacob and their mother Nancy Clark Otter, his brother Bennett Pudlin, sister-in-law Ann Judd, nephew Nathan Pudlin and his wife Rose Stimson Pudlin and their children, and his niece, Rebecca.
A celebration of Pudlin’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking those inclined to consider a donation to the People’s Center of New Haven, 37 Howe Street, New Haven 06511.